These days, we are all overwhelmed by the onslaught of sad news that surrounds us. When you talk about the news, do you tend to talk about the positive or the negative? It seems you can’t look at your notifications without seeing some disturbing news alert! It’s very easy to take this as a sign that there is no hope, and to simply sit back and watch the world fall apart. However, if you stick around to watch the news long enough, you always see that there are people out there working hard to make the world a better place. There is always a heartwarming story, and oftentimes the story is about someone like you or I - regular people who showed extraordinary love.
In these times it is more important than ever to make personal connections with people and to make everyone feel valued. In your busy schedule, set aside a little bit of time dedicated to making someone smile. I guarantee you - you will smile in the process too.
And it’s so easy! Think about a time when someone did something kind for you. Imagine how you felt, imagine how you smiled. Chances are, they didn’t save your life or drastically change it in any way. Perhaps they held a door open for you and smiled as you walked through. A few weeks ago on the first day of my AP Spanish class, I was a little nervous because I knew that the class was going to be mainly seniors. As I sat at my desk looking around, a nearby senior girl whom I knew from a club smiled in surprise, “Oh hi Beatrice!”. All she did was say hi, but it calmed my jitters and gave me so much confidence for the year. I wrote it down as one of my “3 gratefuls” that evening.
I wanted to write this post to give you a few ideas for your own random acts of kindness. Use this as a jumping off point - feel free to do more brainstorming, and check out the resources I’ve included at the end of the post. The sky is the limit for how much happiness you can spread
1. Post an anonymous compliment - or start a page!
Have you ever seen a compliments page? It’s a page run by one or more ~top secret~ people who take in messages that people send to them and post them anonymously in one place. Many schools, including mine, have one. Sit down at your computer and send them 5 compliments that you’ve been thinking but have never had the courage to say to those people in person. The anonymity adds a touch of mystery and also makes it clear that the compliment was intended only to make the recipient happy, not to make the sender look good ;)
If you don’t have access to a compliments page, start one! Make one for your school, your workplace, your neighborhood, etc. It’s really not a lot of work, and it’s very rewarding.
If you can’t think of whom you could write a compliment to, I find it helpful to mentally go through my day and imagine the classrooms and hallways I walk through. I can visualize all of the kind people who help me and make me smile, and suddenly I have lots of ideas!
2. Pay for the person ahead of you at the drive through
Usually when you’re at a drive through, the person behind you has already ordered by the time you get your food. Simply tell the cashier that you’d like to pay for the bill of the person behind you, then drive away. Perfect if you’re shy!
3. Bake some snacks for a club meeting
I’m a member of a few clubs where we bring snack sometimes, and people always get super excited when you bake them some treats. Baking is already such a fun and cozy activity and giving the rewards of that labor to someone else just triples the warm fuzzy feelings. Plus, you get to enjoy the treat with your fellow club members!
So the next time you’ve got a book club or a volunteering club meeting coming up, whip up a dish of brownies or a batch of cookies for everyone.
4. Hold open the door for someone
Probably the most common act of kindness and the easiest, but it really does count. Especially if you give the person a warm smile as you hold the door. A lot of times when we’re out running errands we can get stressed and lonely, rushing through the places we visit with our minds somewhere else. Making that connection, even just for that moment, can really bring us back to the present moment and change the course of our day.
Just make sure the person isn’t too far away, because then it gets awkward as you stand there waiting for them to walk up to you, haha!
7. Put together a care package for a friend who is sick
If your friend has come down with a cold or a more serious illness, they need you to be there for them. You don’t have to spend all day by their side, but make sure that they know that they are still in your thoughts, even though they might not be at school or at work that day.
Consider putting together a quick package for them. Maybe include some tea, some fuzzy socks, homemade cookies, a card, some funny jokes, a magazine to read, etc.
6. Leave a kind post-it note in each library book you return
Before you go back to the library with that stack of books, take a few seconds to jot down a few nice messages and doodles on post-it notes. Write something like…
“Hope you’re having a nice day!”
“I loved this book! You have great taste in books ;)”
“You can achieve anything you set your mind to!”
“You are beautiful!”
I know, these are getting cheesier and cheesier, but come on - wouldn’t you love to stumble upon a cheesy little compliment in the middle of a difficult reading assignment? Or to find an inspirational quote at the end of a breathtaking novel?
7. Write an e-mail to a teacher who has made a difference in your life
I had this wonderful teacher last year who often showed us e-mails from students she’d had years ago, writing to thank her for the amazing job she did teaching them. I was so impressed. I felt lucky to have that kind of a teacher and I wanted to be like those students when I grew up. I could see how happy it made my teacher.
When you find yourself reminiscing about an old teacher, stop reminiscing and start writing. You have probably had so many amazing teachers in your life that you have a lot to say about - let them know!
8. Let someone know that you are always there to help
Sometimes all I need in the middle of a stressful project is for someone to tell me that they’re for me if I need help. At school clubs, some of the student leaders I admire most are simply exceptional at making people feel valued and cared for. I was at my volunteering club a few days ago, feeling overwhelmed at the end of a meeting with everything that I had to do. As I was getting ready to leave, the club president grabbed my folder for me, slowly put my papers back inside it, and told me that if I needed any help, I should feel free to ask her.
I felt calmer instantly. Even though I knew I could handle it and I didn’t want to add anything to her already crazy busy schedule, it meant everything in that moment that she offered her help.
9. Draw or write something for someone
Passing notes in class may not be allowed, but if you doodle during class anyways, why not doodle something special for a friend to give them as a mini-gift? Maybe they have a big test coming up - write them a motivational message and draw some cheesy thumbs-up and confetti.
10. Sign up to volunteer
You don’t need to make a big commitment to volunteer. Find an organization that hosts open events that you can help out at without training. For example, you can lend a hand to an environmental organization, sign up to staff a race, or paint faces at a kids’ event. The opportunities are endless, they just might be a little hard to find. Check out any online resources that your city might have to find all of these organizations in one place. If they don’t openly advertise any opportunities, shoot them a quick e-mail to let them know what kind of a volunteering opportunity you’re looking for.
So now that I’ve given you all of these ideas, here is my challenge for you (should you choose to accept it). By the end of this week, complete 3 random acts of kindness. It doesn’t matter how big or small they are, what matters is that you are making a conscious effort to brighten others’ days.
If you complete this challenge, you will get better at kindness, just like doing push-ups makes you better at push-ups! In fact, Dr. Ritchie Davidson of the University of Wisconsin said that, “It’s kind of like weight training, we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”
So whether you enjoy weight training or not, this is one muscle you’ll definitely want to work out!
Check out some of these websites for more ideas and inspiration:
Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
50 Kindness Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness Day - RAOK Blog
102 Random Acts of Kindness - Brad Aronson
101 Easy Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness - Buzzfeed
29 Ways to Carry Out Random Acts of Kindness Every Day - Lifehack
Random Acts Organization
Let me know which acts of kindness you decide to do and I’ll keep you guys updates on Instagram as well :)
All the best,